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Published On: Thu, Jun 20th, 2019

Jolt for TDP: As Naidu vacations abroad, 4 TDP Rajya Sabha MPs switch over to saffron BJP

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New Delhi: TDP Rajya Sabha MPs Y Sujana Chowdary, TG Venkatesh and CM Ramesh submit their resignation to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu as they resign from the party, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2019. (PTI Photo) (PTI6_20_2019_000163B)

NEW DELHI/ HYDERABAD : In less than a month after its historic defeat in the 2019 polls, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday received a jolt when four of its MPs in the Rajya Sabha decided to switch sides to the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP).

The developments, which are a shot in the arm for the BJP, could not have come at a worse time for the party, as its father-son duo president and general secretary, N. Chandrababu Naidu and Nara Lokesh, are both abroad on a holiday in Europe. On Friday, 4 TDP MPs – CM Ramesh, Y. S. Chowdary, T. G. Venkatesh, and G. Mohan Rao wrote to Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu, asking him to merge the TDP’s legislature party with the BJP.
Apart from that, 13 ex-MLAs of the TDP, who contested in the 2019 assembly and are from the numerically strong Kapu community, also held a closed-door meeting in Kakinada to reportedly to discuss joining the BJP or the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).

Chawdary, a former union minister with the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, and Ramesh are believed to be close to Naidu. The two MPs in fact have faced a series of searches by the Income Tax department, CBI and Enforcement Directorate in recent times. A senior TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted, alleged that the BJP has used central agencies to strong-arm the MPs into switching sides.
“Naidu will be back on 25 June and right now there is nobody else to take of these things. We are more concerned about the 13 ex-MLAs conducting a meeting. They are all big names in the districts they hail from. Losing someone like Y. S. Chowdary will also impact the party in terms of funding,” said the TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted.
Moreover, the 4 MPs won’t draw the anti-defection law, which allows defections if two-thirds of a party’s legislature switch sides. The TDP has six MPs in the Rajya Sabha.BJP’s AP vice-president Vishnuvardhan Reddy said that many leaders from not just the TDP, but also the Congress and Jana Sena Party (JSP) are looking to join the BJP in AP.
Today morning they met under Y. S. Chowdary and they proposed to Amit Shah that they want to join the BJP. Amit Shah agreed and Thawarchand Gehlot and I went to Venkaiah Naidu with their proposal and as well as our agreement and gave it to him. He will look into it,” said J.P Nadda, working president of the BJP on Thursday.
While the previous two sessions of Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated disruptions and adjournments with TDP MPs often storming the well of the House and staging walkouts, demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh, Y.S Chowdhury, who was one of the MPs to join the BJP on Thursday, added that the move was in the larger interest of the state.
Chandrababu Naidu quit the NDA last year over the centre’s refusal to provide Special Status to Andhra Pradesh and became one of the key interlocutors of the opposition. But his plan failed spectacularly. Arch-rival Jaganmohan Reddy, the chief of the YSR Congress, not only won the state elections, but also scooped up 22 of the state’s 25 Lok Sabha seats.
Since then, there has been speculation that the party was headed for a split mainly because of growing resentment against accepting Mr Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh as the leader.Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy had announced in the state assembly recently that some of the TDP legislators were “in touch” with him in a bid to switch sides.
On Thursday, four of TDP’s six Rajya Sabha members submitted a petition to the Upper House Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu seeking merger with the BJP and later joined the party in New Delhi. Responding to the move, the BJP state unit said TDP might become “an empty house” by the time Mr Naidu returned from his vacation.(With Inputs From Hyderabad).

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